Sunday, May 05, 2013

For its pride, state firms up SC review plea

For its pride, state firms up SC review plea
The Indian Express

Modi himself chaired a meeting of State Board for Wildlife on Thursday.

Gujarat's State Board for Wildlife (SBWL) on Thursday "unanimously" decided to file a review petition against the Supreme Court judgment on translocation of Asiatic lions to Madhya Pradesh and provide fresh arguments against fears of a large fire or epidemic killing off the last wild population of the endangered sub-species by saying several rivers in the Gir forest separate the prides there and total annihilation "will not happen". The Gir Protected Area is a catchment area for a total of seven rivers.
"The judgment has expressed fears that a large forest fire or epidemic may wipe off the population of Asiatic Lions in Gir forest, but that will not happen because we have several rivers flowing through the forest that divides the population. So a forest fire will not touch all the populations, and the same goes in case of an epidemic too," Lavkumar Khachar, the SBWL's senior-most member, told The Indian Express when asked what fresh arguments will be made when the review petition is filed.

Khachar and Forest Minister Ganpat Vasava addressed journalists immediately after the board meeting chaired by Chief Minister Narendra Modi finished and said the review petition would likely be filed together by the government and conservation organisations active in the Gir region. State Wildlife Warden C N Pandey said the decision to file a review petition was "unanimous and there was no dissent".

While addressing the media, Vasava and Khachar repeated concerns that the lion's future new home, Kuno Palpur Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, is "unsafe" for the Asiatic lions because of poaching cases in the past and that the Asiatic lions are safe in Gujarat where locals contribute to conservation efforts.

The SBWL had told the SC earlier that "the issue of giving or not giving lions to Kuno is not an issue of conflict between states, but it is a collective Indian cultural approach in the interest of long-term conservation of lions as part of our family.... [and] that Asiatic lion being a 'family member' is beyond and higher than the 'scientific reasoning'."

In its judgment, the SC retorted, "The cardinal issue is not whether the Asiatic lion is a 'family member' or is part of the 'Indian culture and civilisation', or the pride of a state but the preservation of an endangered species for which we have to apply the 'species' best interest standard'. Our approach should not be human-centric or family-centric but eco-centric."

"'Scientific reasoning' for its re-location has to supersede the family bond or pride of the people and we have to look at the species' best interest, especially in a situation where the species is found to be critically endangered and the necessity of a second home has been keenly felt," the SC added.

Besides Modi, Vasava, Khachar, Wildlife warden C N Pandey and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests S K Goyal, Thursday's meeting was attended by Minister of State for Environment Govind Patel, MLAs Shankar Chaudhary, Moti Vasava and Kanubhai Desai, conservationists Deshal Paghi, Sonal Chauhan, D B Jadeja, Digvijaysinh Solanki, Smita Pradhan, Sonal Shah and Anil Chaudhary, Environment and Forests Secretary H K Dash and Minister of State for Law Pradipsinh Jadeja, a special invitee.

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